Biggest asset managers vote against climate proposals

Non-profit organisation Majority Action has released a report reviewing the efforts of 25 of the world’s largest asset managers to hold US energy and utility companies accountable for climate change risks and emissions. Among the firms reviewed were BlackRock and Vanguard. BlackRock has been in the news recently due to reports that the firm made significant losses due to its investments in fossil fuel industries, reported on here. The report has revealed some of these firms’ corporate voting decisions that have indicated a lack of climate action on their parts.

Both of these asset managing firms voted against the large majority of climate-critical resolutions that were reviewed in the report. BlackRock voted in support of only five out of 41 of these resolutions, while Vanguard voted in support of only four. One of the proposals that was voted against by the firms and subsequently dismissed, would have held ExxonMobil’s board accountable for failures to responsibly address climate change. Another would have increased transparency surrounding Duke Energy’s lobbying efforts. Duke Energy is reported to use more coal than any other electric utility company in the US, making it one of the highest emitting firms reviewed in the report. BlackRock and Vanguard also voted against US shareholder proposals that were supported by the Climate Action 100+ investor coalition, again avoiding management accountability and transparency.

Other asset managers have shown more climate-conscious voting records. Legal & General, BNP Paribas and PIMCO voted in favour of 95 per cent of the aforementioned climate-related proposals, analysed in the report. DWS Group voted in favour of improving accountability, emission disclosures and corporate political influence transparency. The report suggests that asset holders evaluate the proxy voting records of the management firms who handle their assets, and move assets to managers who vote in favour of transparency and sustainability efforts. Further, the report suggests that government policy could help these efforts and encourage reform through transparency and conflict of interest regulations.

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